Published in

Public Library of Science, PLoS ONE, 6(17), p. e0268754, 2022

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0268754



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Assessing and visualizing fragility of clinical results with binary outcomes in R using the fragility package

Journal article published in 2022 by Lifeng Lin ORCID, Haitao Chu ORCID
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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With the growing concerns about research reproducibility and replicability, the assessment of scientific results’ fragility (or robustness) has been of increasing interest. The fragility index was proposed to quantify the robustness of statistical significance of clinical studies with binary outcomes. It is defined as the minimal event status modifications that can alter statistical significance. It helps clinicians evaluate the reliability of the conclusions. Many factors may affect the fragility index, including the treatment groups in which event status is modified, the statistical methods used for testing for the association between treatments and outcomes, and the pre-specified significance level. In addition to assessing the fragility of individual studies, the fragility index was recently extended to both conventional pairwise meta-analyses and network meta-analyses of multiple treatment comparisons. It is not straightforward for clinicians to calculate these measures and visualize the results. We have developed an R package called “fragility” to offer user-friendly functions for such purposes. This article provides an overview of methods for assessing and visualizing the fragility of individual studies as well as pairwise and network meta-analyses, introduces the usage of the “fragility” package, and illustrates the implementations with several worked examples.